1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bryan Waller Procter

Robert Carruthers, in Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, 3rd ed. (1876; 1879) 5:349-50.



Under the name of Barry Cornwall, a new poet appeared in 1815, as author of a small volume of dramatic scenes of a domestic character, written "in order to try the effect of a more natural style than that which had for a long time prevailed in our dramatic literature." The experiment was successful, chiefly on account of the pathetic and tender scenes in the sketches. To this dramatic volume succeeded three volumes of poems — A Sicilian Story, Marcian Colonna, and The Flood of Thessaly, all published under the nom de plume of Barry Cornwall, which became highly popular. His next work was a tragedy, Mirandola, 1821, which was brought out at Covent Garden Theatre, the two principal parts being acted by Macready and Charles Kemble. This also was successful. The subsequent productions of the poet were Effigies Poetica, and English Songs. The latter are perhaps the best of Barry Cornwall's works, and the most like to live: they have the true lyrical spirit. Besides these, the author produced two prose works, a Life of Edmund Kean, the actor, and a biographical sketch of his early friend Charles Lamb. BRYAN WALLER PROCTER (1790-1874) was a native of London, and was the schoolfellow of Byron and Peel at Harrow. He was a barrister at law and one of the Commissioners of Lunacy. Living to a great age, he enjoyed the regard and esteem of a large circle of friends and of the literary society of London. In 1857 a windfall came to Mr. Procter and to certain other poets. Mr. John Kenyon, a wealthy West Indian gentleman, fond of literary society, and author of a Rhymed Plea for Tolerance, left more than 140,000 in legacies to individuals whom he loved or admired. Included in this number were Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 4000; her husband, 6500; and to Mr. Procter also 6500.